Readers are the Future of the Social Web
I was listening to Jeffrey's The Big Web Show with Tantek regarding Web standards and the decentralized Web. And something that was obvious but implicit was highlighted on the show. If you wanted to follow someone (or something), you just had to click a button (or tap a button) and now you are. You didn't have to worry if the feed went out, formatting changed, images break or what not. It just "works". You can reply to entries in your feeds (or timeline) and as a publisher you can field said responses easily - like with no effort.
I can point to the mention of Google Reader but that's a different conversation. My thought of conscience now is around how we can get to a point where we're not entrusting a company to handle our online lives (to a degree) but allow us to hold that autonomy. There's projects like Pleroma, Mastodon, PixelFed and write.as that make use of this standard called ActivityPub but in its current state, it requires a bit of commitment to the models that they've employed on what social networking can look like. This might work for some people who have no problem having different accounts for different facets of their lives (a write.as account for their long-form writing, Pleroma or Mastodon for micro blogging and PixelFed for their photography). I have a particular want where my site is the authoritative source of all of this information. No social media platform outside of Facebook provides this. That's due to its critical inception in so many places (services like NounProject use it as an option for authentication as well as Seamless) which allowed it to collect too many information. I'd prefer to have my own site be this bastion of information about myself that I can then dispatch information to requesting sites on a more controlled basis. We've come to see that we can't trust fully automated systems to work in our favor especially when we don't know who's doing the monitoring of said automated systems.
Where do we Go?
This is largely me calling/hoping/working towards more people to invest into social readers and using either their own websites or services that help them do that. There's been a lot of work in the space and I'm hoping to throw my hat into the ring soon. With things like Monocle, Together and Indigenous, I'm thinking we can get there. There's things I'd like to see that I'm working on bundling into my own take on a social reader (codename Brother Eye for now):
- I'd like to see from my reader who've interacted with a particular post. Bonus points if it's sorted by people who I have marked a particular relationship with.
The ability to surface recommendable content and also explain why it was shown without marketing jargon is also a big add.
- Having humane design principles built in is a must.
This is just a short list of things I'd want to see in said readers. I'll add more as time goes on.